Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bishop Thomas Olmstead to Notre Dame prez: "grave mistake"

In an email first reported by Thomas Peters at American Papist, Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix, Arizona expressed disapproval to Notre Dame president Father John I. Jenkins of the invitation to President Barack Obama to the Catholic university's May commencement.

The Bishop's public disapproval joins that of the university's Bishop John D'Arcy, who announced his boycott of the commencement ceremonies because of the honor planned for President Obama.

I guess I don't understand some things. While I'm heartened that two bishops expressed disapproval, I don't get why somebody in the higher-up crowd just says "no, you can't do that."

Anyway, Bishop Olmstead gave permission to release his email publicly, according to a Diocese of Phoenix spokesman, "due to the fact that the invitation by Notre Dame’s president, Fr. John Jenkins, to President Barack Obama to give the commencement speech at Notre Dame’s May graduation is a public act causing widespread public scandal due to the U.S. President’s clear support of policies which fail to protect and even attack innocent human life..."

Here's the email's content:
I am saddened and heavy of heart about your decision to invite President Obama to speak at Notre Dame University and even to receive an honorary degree.

It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States. Out USCCB June 2004 Statement “Catholics in Political Life” states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” No one could not know of the public stands and actions of the president on key issues opposed to the most vulnerable human beings.

John Paul II said, “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the rights to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination”

I pray that you come to see the grave mistake of your decision, and the way that it undercuts the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel of Life in our day.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted
Diocese of Phoenix